The Changing Face of Cambridge

Alison Wring
Set against the backdrop of the University of Cambridge, the city of Cambridge and its surroundings have evolved into an international centre for business, science, technology, education, medicine and research.

Silicon Fen, as this area is popularly named, is home to a large cluster of high-tech businesses, many focusing on software, electronics and biotechnology. Cambridge functions as the leading economic hub for the region and there are very exciting prospects here.

Cambridge is a longstanding location of choice for the world's leading life sciences and technology companies. The city's reputation as a global hub of ideas and learning led to the establishment of Cambridge Science Park back in 1970 by Trinity College. The science park is now Europe's longest-serving and largest centre for commercial research and development, home to over 100 companies and 1,650,000 sq ft of buildings.

Cambridge is a longstanding location of choice for the world's leading life sciences and technology companies.

Companies continue to flock to Cambridge – many are global high tech firms like Microsoft, Pfizer and Astra Zeneca - leading to the dense concentration of innovation and research dubbed the Cambridge phenomenon. The close physical proximity between the science and technology organisations and the academic institutions has traditionally been a huge benefit. Improved infrastructure, including the building of the M11 and A14, and government funding played important roles in reinforcing the area's success.

Staying competitive is now the priority. Cambridge City Council has been carrying out a Local Plan review, including consultation on options for development on the edge of the city, and this was submitted to Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government in March 2014. Part one (PDF, 17 MB) of the Local Plan review was produced in partnership with South Cambridgeshire District Council, and includes potential site options for residential, employment and community stadium use. Part two (PDF, 27 MB) of the plan includes site options within the urban area for a range of uses, new residential car parking standards, cycle parking standards, residential space standards and site designations for protected open space, and land-use designations such as local and district centres.

The transport network and infrastructure around Cambridge will be transformed by a government grant of up to £500 million...

The transport network and infrastructure around Cambridge will be transformed by a government grant of up to £500 million announced in the March 2014 Budget (PDF, 2.1 MB). The cash is expected to be released over 15 to 20 years and will be topped-up with upto £1 billion by local authorities using proceeds from growth.

There's especially high demand for housing in and around Cambridge, with over 5,000 new homes built over the last decade. The need for further growth has been recognised, to accommodate a growing local population and to attract talented people to come and work here. Latest projections suggest a further 7,400 new homes in the next five years, according to the council's annual monitoring reports

Cambridge's prospects were further enhanced in 2012 when the Cambridge Future City feasibility study was developed as part of the national Future City Demonstrator competition. Cambridge was one of only thirty cities that won a £50,000 grant from the Technology Strategy Board, the UK's Innovation Agency.

The Future City initiative explores the challenges and opportunities around shaping the urban environment, thinking ahead to the needs of future generations. It aims to sustain business and housing growth, and improve transport and energy efficiency. The detailed study is supported by the high tech community including University of Cambridge and Anglia Ruskin University, and the civic and business communities.

Please note there's more than one university here! Anglia Ruskin University, based in Cambridge, Chelmsford and Peterborough, is an important member of the study/research community. Anglia Ruskin's entrepreneurial talent has been recognised after its Centre for Enterprise Development and Research (CEDAR) became the UK's first university enterprise centre to be awarded IOEE Centre of Excellence status.

The upsurge in infrastructure development, together with growing demand for academic and commercial space, underpins a thriving built environment sector. As head of Faithful+Gould's Cambridge office, I lead a talented and diverse team in supporting the local economy's prosperity. Right now we're working on a variety of projects throughout the East Anglia region.

One of our exciting projects is North West Cambridge, the largest single capital development project that the University has undertaken in its 800-year history.

One of our exciting projects is North West Cambridge Development, the largest single capital development project that the University has undertaken in its 800-year history. The University is investing £1 billion to meet its long-term growth needs. We're also active in the wider surrounding area, with projects such as the Alconbury Weald Enterprise Campus, residential-led mixed-use development north of Huntingdon. We’re providing significant programme, project management and cost management services for Cambridgeshire County Council, currently working on over 50 projects. And of course it’s not just the big projects that make a difference to the community, as illustrated by our work on a significant refurbishment project for Cambridge City Council in the heart of Cambridge’s retail district.

Our Cambridge office's work is very diverse, with strength in so many sectors. The redevelopment of the Arthur Rank Hospice, a charitable trust that provides highly valued palliative and end of life care service to residents of Cambridge City and South Cambridgeshire, is another great commission that we're currently working on and a good example of the value we can add to healthcare projects. Our team is expanding to support these local opportunities, so please get in touch with me if you have the best professional skills and would relish being part of all the great work happening in and around Cambridge.

Written by